A new lawsuit against Apple is drumming up speculation that the tech giant is looking into building its own car, according to a Reuters article by Deepa Seetharaman and Edwin Chan. A123 Systems, a maker of electric-car batteries, has accused Apple of poaching its most important engineers.
According to the lawsuit, the practice began in June of last year, when lead engineers broke their employment contracts and jumped ship to Apple, sinking the projects they’d been working on. One of the engineers named in the lawsuit is accused of actually facilitating communications between Apple and A123’s battery partner SiNode Systems. Moreover, according to the article over sixty former employees of Tesla, the electric car company, are now in Apple’s ranks.
For A123, the poaching hurts. Despite having received a $249 million grant from the US government, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012; losing its top engineers came as a hard kick when the company was trying to get back up off the ground.
Apple has displayed a more or less amoral attitude in its machinations in the business world, having abruptly ended a major supply relationship last year, and also having attracted the attention of Canada’s Competition Bureau over alleged wrongdoing in some contract negotiations. But the company is also a major innovator with the kind of brand power that could really put some muscle behind the nascent electric car industry. It recently announced it would be building an enormous solar power plant in California to power its own operations; looking into electric cars could be an extension of the company’s interest in renewable energy, not to mention a play in its rivalry against Google, which is developing its own car.